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the wisdom of hamm.

I’ve spent no time whatsoever thinking about who will be on my famous person hang-out list… yet. However, it’s becoming pretty certain Jon Hamm (aka, Stuart Turkeylink) will be on there. Here is Jon answering questions sent to him by teenage girls as part of the series ‘Ask A Grown Man.


what celebrities would you want to hang out with?

I think I might waste some time over the next week or so compiling a top ten list of artists and celebrities I would most want to hang out with if I had some sort of genie that could only provide the means to grab cocktails with famous people.

You should leave comments as to what celebs might show up on your list. Please. I really want to know whom you would pick and why.

I’m pretty sure that when I make my list, Jon Hamm will be on it. He is hilarious, he’s a huge dork, and in real life appears to be the anti-Don Draper… aside from the devastatingly good looking part, that they have in common. Here is one reason why:


the proper use of the word ‘prequel.’

I’m trying to work toward re-embracing the fact that I’m a huge nerd, letting the chips fall where they may. Here is part of that process.

I’m not sure why, but people seem to have a pretty difficult time with when something can appropriately called a ‘prequel.’ The word is really popular now, because there are so very many of them, but people often call something a prequel when it isn’t. I’m not just referring to friends and random people on the street, although that’s annoying, too. I’m referring to movie websites, places where people get paid to write or a living, and have editors. That’s not annoying, that’s unforgivable. It drives me insane. Someone please give me a job.

The word prequel is a combination of the prefix: pre, and the word: sequel.

Pre, as a prefix, means: “before in time, rank, order, position, etc.” And, to use wikipedia’s definition, because it’s easy, a sequel “is a narrative, documental, or other work of literature, movie … or song that continues the story of or expands upon issues presented in some previous work.”

This being the case, the definition of “prequel” is pretty straightforward. To cite wikipedia again, “a prequel is a literary, dramatic, or filmic work whose story precedes that of a previous work” So, the prequel is a work that comes after another work, but in which the story precedes the events of the original work.

What seems to confuse people is that the story in a prequel is earlier chronologically. This leads folks to start calling any story that comes earlier in a larger story a prequel. This would be like calling Iron Man a ‘prequel’ to The Avengers. However, that’s an incorrect usage of the word. Iron Man is in fact a story that takes place before The Avengers, however, it came out before The Avengers, thus it isn’t a sequel, and cannot be referred to as a prequel. It is a prelude, in that a prelude can mean: “any action, event, comment, etc. that precedes something else.”

Another example: I’ve heard so very many people refer to the book The Hobbit as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not true. The Hobbit was written and released before Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings. It is a prelude, not a prequel. However, if you are referring to the film adaptations, then you can correctly refer to the upcoming Hobbit films as prequels, because the events in the story take place before the events in The Lord of the Rings, but the films are coming out afterward. 

Here are some more examples:
Star Wars: A New Hope is a prelude to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is a prequel to Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (A terrible, terrible prequel.)
The Hunger Games is a prelude to Catching Fire
People often don’t know this, but Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark
The upcoming Prometheus is a prequel to Alien.

So, there you have it. The correct way to use the word ‘prequel.’ Stay tuned for the next installment, the correct use of the word ‘irony.’



rebecca, alfred hitchcock, and why the oscars are overrated.

I think the Oscars are stupid. There, I wrote it down for all the world to see.

I’ve hidden this fact for a long time, but over the last few months I’ve decided to be a little more vocal about it. The list of reasons why I believe the Oscars are remarkably overrated, especially in terms of actually pointing out what films and filmmakers carry historic significance that will outlive the present, is quite long. Among the most compelling of these reasons is that Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar for Best Director, and only one of his films won Best Picture. That film is Rebecca. More on that in a moment, but seriously, try to come up with directors who had a greater impact on film history and film-craft in their careers than Hitchcock did. Yet, he never won Best Director, and he only won Best Picture once.

He is still emulated, if you can even call it emulation. Most just call it ‘Directing.’ Hitchcock pioneered so many methods of filming to increase emotional investment in a film. He was a master at imagining and improving on ways to use the camera to heighten dramatic tension, fear, empathy, and to tell a story visually. Now, most of his methods are taken for granted. Borrowing from Hitchcock isn’t even thought of as borrowing from Hitchcock, it’s just referred to as ‘making a movie.’ Saying he is one of the most important directors of all time isn’t an opinion, it’s just fact. You can have the opinion that you don’t like his movies, but you can’t say he wasn’t important, because 99 out of 100 filmmakers you do like would say they draw from Hitchcock, and the other one would do it without realizing it.

He made films for over 50 years! He is responsible for some of the most beloved and influential films in history. Yet, if you were going to use the Oscars as a gauge, you would think he was a flash in the pan who made one great movie in 1940. Forget the fact that he didn’t even peak until the 1950’s. He hadn’t even begun to peak. And when he did, all of Philadelphia felt it. (Sorry, I had an It’s Always Sunny moment).

Here is just a small smattering of Hitchcock films that didn’t win either award.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Notorious (1946), Rope (1948), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963).

Also, Vertigo lost to Gigi. Case closed. I’ve never seen Gigi, and I’m sure it’s a lovely film…. but better than Vertigo?!? Are you fucking joking? How often do you see Gigi on any director, critic or film scholar’s top ten list of greatest and most important films of all time? Vertigo is on a staggering percentage of them. This includes the list of some nobody named Roger Ebert. What does he know about film history, right? Probably nothing.

This happens a lot, where you look back to see if some of the most important movies ever won Best Picture or Director, only to discover they lost to something no one even remembers. Anyway, Oscar rant over. Up with Hitchcock!!

So, Rebecca. 

It’s the story of a young woman who falls in love and marries an enigmatic widower, moves into his famous England estate, Manderley, and discovers that the shadow of his late wife may be too overwhelming for her to bear.

The story opens strong, with a long, eerie single cut dream sequence. We enter through a gate and into the woods, through an overgrown driveway, settling onto the moonlit shell of a massive mansion. All the while, a narrator provides voice-over, beginning with the iconic opening line of the novel on which the film is based: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Once we got through that part, it took a downward turn for me because I thought the emotional cues seemed a little off. However, once it gets rolling, and the unexpected noirish mystery and intrigue starts unfolding, it gets much more interesting and entertaining.

Even in the moments I didn’t care for early on, it was still worth seeing the visual flairs of Hitchcock. Then, once the story grew more engaging, it was Hitchcock in all his glory. Approaching a door through the eyes of our protagonist, seeing what she sees as she hesitantly moves forward, seeing her hand as our hand as it reaches up and slowly opens the door. Or, the ghostly appearance of the late Lady De Winter’s bedroom. Just two of the visual delights the film offers. I can’t really offer more without spoiling plot points, which is something I don’t like doing.

Anyway, Rebecca still holds up as one of the most celebrated films of all time. It’s on tons of ‘Greatest Movies of All-Time’ lists, including: The Empire Magazine 500, Time Magazine’s 1000 Greatest Movies Ever Made, the wonderful list, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and the 1000 movies selected by They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They.

If this era of cinema is to your liking, you should check it out.

Also, the all-important Hitchcock cameo. 


awake my soul.

I’m not done with my master’s degree, but I’m also not in school right now. The reason is a long story, or maybe several short stories all wound up together in succession. Either way, my life is in a pretty odd place. I miss a lot about being in school. I like being in school in general, and I really enjoyed being at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in particular. What I miss most is absolutely the conversations that were so easy to come by in grad school. In class, after class, in discussion groups, just hanging out with other students… it was so common for things to evolve into conversations of deep things. It was good for my brain, and good for my soul.

Being in a place where the goal is to become more than we are, individually and collectively, is such a beautiful thing. The Seattle School is one of those places people go because they dream of making the world a better, more beautiful place. I come to realize more all the time that I am diminished by no longer being a part of that community.

This diminishment is my own fault. Leaving school there was always inevitable. Even if I had never decided to slow down, and then taken a leave of absence, eventually I would have graduated, so either way I was going to walk away eventually. I needed to maintain a connection with a community of people who desired stepping into deeper conversations of ultimate things. I didn’t do that, but now I desperately need it back.

I had already been thinking along these lines, and then I got together with my friend Naomi and our conversation ended up running the gamut of all sorts of awesome things. We talked about politics, art, race, her music (she’s a brilliant singer/songwriter), 30 Rock. It was good.

My brain has been sleeping. Something has changed in me, has turned off. Even with my close friends I’m less likely to share my opinion and thoughts, which is really weird. My friends are safe, they might tell me I’m fucking nuts if I say something they don’t like, but they’ll still love me afterward… at least I think they will.

I need more outlets and contexts for conversation and engagement. Once I get going, it’s what I’m best at. Does anyone have some they are already a part of? Or want to start some with me? Think tanks? Writing groups? Discussion groups? Book clubs? Movie watching clubs? Anything?!? I’m already a part of a context that is trying to do this, and I don’t mean to diminish that, but I need more.

Maybe you live in Seattle and are interested. Maybe you live somewhere else and we would need to get creative. I just know I need to exercise my brain, to be me again, to awaken my soul from its painful and distressing slumber.

Any takers? Anyone? Anyone?